The original page follows the chronology of relevant material, constantly updated
4 other “Coronacrisis”-related pages on this site:
Coronavirus in France, Contestavirus (a constantly updated chronology of global expressions of contestation against the new conditions of misery), Czaravirus (about the situation in Russia) and Cameravirus (facial recognition cameras, masks and the global development of totalitarianism from China to the rest of the world)
This is a list of relevant material (mainly links, though with some comments), other than those related to the other 3 Coronavirus pages on this site ( listed above) and other than those which mainstream media have given most attention to. They’re put up regularly in the order they’ve been received or discovered starting with the most recent. I am obviously in opposition to the ideological content of most of these articles.
“Globally, the world’s most authoritarian governments, in Venezuela and Nicaragua, Egypt, China and elsewhere, have treated the pandemic…as cover to broaden and intensify their efforts to clamp down on dissent and thwart the free spread of information — and not just about the pandemic…”
“Experts have ruled out the idea that the pathogen was concocted as a bioweapon. They agree that it began as a bat virus that probably evolved naturally in another mammal to become adept at infecting and killing humans. But so far, after months of concentrated research at sites and laboratories in China and elsewhere around the globe, no clear intermediary has come to light. The first three of Dr. Lucey’s eight questions center on the Wuhan wet market — a sprawling marketplace that sold fresh fish and meat before being shut down. It was initially viewed as the viral point of origin. That idea was quickly thrown into doubt when a study by Chinese scientists reported that roughly a third of the earliest hospitalized victims — including the first — had never visited the market. In a May blog, Dr. Lucey quoted the head of China’s Center for Disease Control as ruling it out as the pandemic’s place of origin. The market, the Chinese health official said, “is just another victim.”…no direct evidence has come to light suggesting that the coronavirus escaped from one of Wuhan’s labs….Finally, Dr. Lucey asks the W.H.O. team to learn more about China’s main influenza research lab, a high-security facility in Harbin, the capital of China’s northernmost province. In May, he notes, a Chinese paper in the journal Science reported that two virus samples from Wuhan were studied there in great detail early this year, including in a variety of animals. It reported that cats and ferrets were highly susceptible to the pathogen; dogs were only mildly susceptible; and pigs, chickens and ducks were not susceptible at all.”
Just received: “Inside the Invasive, Secretive “Bossware” Tracking Workers”, particularly post-Covid teleworkers
“COVID-19 has pushed millions of people to work from home, and a flock of companies offering software for tracking workers has swooped in to pitch their products to employers across the country. The services often sound relatively innocuous. Some vendors bill their tools as “automatic time tracking” or “workplace analytics” software. Others market to companies concerned about data breaches or intellectual property theft. We’ll call these tools, collectively, “bossware.” While aimed at helping employers, bossware puts workers’ privacy and security at risk by logging every click and keystroke, covertly gathering information for lawsuits, and using other spying features …”
“Peter Daszak is on a mission to deflect attention away from any role EcoHealth Alliance may have had in creating the coronavirus pandemic. But he’s not stopping there. He also wants to paint anyone who questions the mainstream narrative as a “conspiracy theorist.” According to this article in GM Watch, Daszak was project leader on a $3.7-million grant supporting bat coronavirus surveillance, and bat coronavirus gain-of-function research at Wuhan Institute of Virology. (Gain-of-function research is a method of studying viruses to make them more virulent and/or more transmissible). Daszak, who’s been all over the media, is being painted by some as a hero. But many credible scientists aren’t buying it. In fact, he’s even been labeled by one scientist as “Patient Zero for misinformation.” The last thing the world needs right now—if we hope to prevent future pandemics—is more misinformation. Read ‘Why are the lab escape denialists telling such brazen lies?’“
Having pointed out this article though, doesn’t mean I think it matters whether the virus escaped from a lab or not. The main point, as with all “conspiracy theories”, is not the precise origins of this or that catastrophe/atrocity etc., but how capital and the state use such events, and how the rest of us react to it. In the case of the above organisation its reaction to the possiblity of Covid having spread from an apparent “biowarfare” lab is to launch a petition to stop such things in the future, about as useful as whitewashing your windows when a nuclear bomb is 4 minutes away from you.
Tesla gave workers permission to stay home rather than risk getting covid-19. Then it sent termination notices.
“This is so perfect in epitomizing the spirit of our modern entremanures: Musk promised no recriminations for staying home out of (wholly legitimate) fear of the coronavirus, and then he sacked all of the workers who took his offer at face value.
I hereby nominate Elon Musk for this years recipient of the Reinhard Heydrich award in managerial perfidity.”
A day before their employment was threatened, two workers had spoken publicly of their concerns about conditions inside a plant
The Tesla factory in Fremont, Calif. (Stephen Lam/Reuters)
June 25, 2020 at 7:00 AM EDT
SAN FRANCISCO — When he defiantly reopened the company’s plant in Fremont, Calif., against county orders last month, Elon Musk promised Tesla employees they could stay home if they felt uneasy. They would not be penalized, he said.
If “you feel uncomfortable coming back to work at this time, please do not feel obligated to do so,” he wrote in an email sent to the company’s factory workers in early May that was viewed by The Washington Post.
Nonetheless, two Tesla workers say they received termination notices alleging a “failure to return to work” after they opted to take unpaid leave to protect themselves and their family members when the factory restarted production the second week of May.
The workers, Carlos Gabriel and Jessica Naro, said they both received the notices last week from Tesla’s human resources department citing their apparent failure to show up and the company’s inability to reach them. The workers provided evidence of their continuing correspondence with managers. They believe they received the notifications for speaking up about their concerns over working conditions at the plant.
Since they received the notices last week, both Gabriel and Naro said they have received calls from HR representatives. Naro was told she could come back, though she was prompted to offer a date of return.
Their concerns about safety are shared by a half-dozen workers who spoke with The Post, some on the condition of anonymity for fear of losing their jobs. They said that Tesla is failing to follow social distancing guidelines, with lax enforcement of rules concerning masks and sanitation of machinery. They also complain of little transparency by the company about new cases of infection, as well as its response.
Employees are “hovering over each other,” one worker said. Some workers disappear for two weeks and their peers are told they’re “sick,” without further explanation, another worker said. Supervisors cite health privacy law in not disclosing particular cases, but workers say Tesla hasn’t even described broadly how widespread the novel coronavirus is at the plant.
Already, workers at Tesla’s seat plant down the road from its main factory were told of two confirmed cases among workers on the morning and evening shifts, with at least three others exposed to the coronavirus.
Branton Phillips, who works on Tesla’s Model S sedan and Model X SUV lines, said he embarks on a daily ritual on returning from the plant: spraying down equipment and removing and bagging his clothes. He showers before saying hello to his wife, Shirley, who has diabetes and heart ailments. Phillips said he takes the risk into account but also needs to work to keep a steady paycheck.
He compared the lack of mask use at work to the push and pull of wearing them in areas across the country. “You’re reflecting what’s outside in the world inside the plant,” he added.
Tesla’s standoff, first with public health officials, then with its own workers, has become one of the most dramatic corporate battles taking place over the response to the global coronavirus pandemic. Musk and the company have argued that the work is essential, something the county disputed. Some workers say that the company’s opaque approach is endangering their lives to build cars.
Companies around the world are struggling to balance measures to limit the spread of the virus with the need to reopen. Amazon, for example, has kept its warehouses running as essential for supply, but dozens of cases have been reported there. (Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.) Grocery stores, too, have seen a spread of cases.
Tesla and Alameda County, home to Tesla’s Fremont factory, have so far declined to say how many cases have been reported at the plant, which employs about 10,000.
Meanwhile, cases of the coronavirus are spiking in California. Alameda County, in particular, has been hit hard, recording some of the highest case numbers among California counties — with more than 5,000 total by this week.
Tesla did not respond to a request for comment. Alameda County spokeswoman Neetu Balram said officials there were reviewing their policies to determine what type of outbreak-related information concerning Tesla could be released, given the public interest in the subject.
“Tesla is reporting their cases among employees directly to [the Alameda County Public Health Department] as required by their Site Specific Plan, which is also a requirement for all businesses that are reopening,” she said.
Though Tesla’s CEO has garnered a reputation for outspokenness on social media, the maker of electric cars is among the most secretive companies in Silicon Valley. Employees, like the broader public, are left to learn of Musk’s mind-set through his sporadic posts on Twitter, limited to 280 characters.
Initially, he dismissed the coronavirus panic as “dumb” in early March.
Shortly after, Alameda County enacted a sweeping stay-at-home order in mid-March, joining other Bay Area counties that were among the first in the country to take drastic measures aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus and covid-19, the illness it causes. Musk told employees in an email at the time that the factory would remain open and that he would personally report to work, but that they could stay home if they felt uncomfortable or ill.
Ultimately, city and county officials intervened, and Tesla agreed to wind down to the “minimum basic operations” allowed under the rules. But that wasn’t the end of the battle.
In late April, Musk went on an erratic tweetstorm that culminated in his writing “FREE AMERICA NOW” in response to widespread stay-at-home orders. He launched into an expletive-laden rant on the company’s earnings call the next day, labeling quarantine measures “fascist” and demanding that politicians return people’s “freedom.” Musk defiantly reopened the factory in early May, winning President Trump’s support as he bucked the county’s orders once more.
Ultimately, county officials backed down and agreed to allow Tesla to fully reopen May 18.
The Post reported earlier in June that workers at the factory’s seat assembly plant were told multiple colleagues had tested positive for the coronavirus — and Alameda County officials confirmed Tesla had reported coronavirus cases in Fremont. Laurie Shelby, Tesla’s vice president for environment, health and safety, told workers in an email that there had been no workplace transmissions of the virus, though it was unknown how the exact origin of each of the cases would have been determined.
Jane McAlevey, a union organizer who serves as senior policy fellow at the University of California at Berkeley’s Center for Labor Research and Education, said Musk’s treatment of his workforce has been typical of tech companies in Silicon Valley.
“He is causing untold problems for his workers,” she said. “He has stressed them out — there’s a huge history there before the covid crisis of health and safety violations. They’re saddled by the kind of promises and rushed production that get people hurt, and now he’s doing it again during a pandemic.”
Since learning of the cases, some workers say they’ve been beset by fear of coming down with covid-19. It’s a matter of particular concern on the vehicle production lines, where multiple workers touch components and share machinery. Some pool into an outdoor tent where they assemble cars.
At some meetings, workers stand three feet apart instead of six feet, one worker said. They rely on masks to keep them safe, the worker said, wearing them for up to 12 hours. Workers periodically sanitize equipment, particularly after breaks, but there’s little enforcement and “we hardly do that,” the worker said.
“It’s all a big aggravation,” said plant employee Phillips. “At the same time it’s hot and sweaty inside there, we’re working 11-hour days and we’re stressed out. It’s making for real — sometimes very — tense situations inside.”
These concerns have prompted some workers to stay home, comforted by Tesla’s promises that they could keep their job without pay in the interim. Ultimately, Gabriel and Naro, who were told they were being fired last week, believe Tesla’s actions were retaliation for their appearance this month at a news conference during which they spoke about conditions at the plant and their fear of returning to work. The San Jose Mercury News previously reported on Gabriel’s termination notice.
“Carlos, there is no need to feel that you are going to lose your job,” wrote Vince Woodard, Tesla’s acting human resources director, in a May email to Gabriel viewed by The Post. “If at this time you do not feel comfortable returning to work, you can stay home without penalty and take the time unpaid.”
A day after the June 15 news conference, however, Gabriel and Naro received emails from the company’s human resources department titled “Failure to Return to Work.” The company’s HR department informed them they would be let go. But they also could dispute the matter and be brought back on — but with the implication that they would have to return to work.
Naro and Gabriel said they both responded to the email. Naro was able to secure her job. Gabriel, who declined to speak with the human resources representative unless the call could be recorded or the conversation could be moved to email, said Tesla has lost his trust. He hasn’t heard back. He is convinced he has lost his position on the powertrain floor, where he installs battery packs on the Model S and X vehicles, because he cannot risk going back with the conditions he’s learned about.
“Some people don’t really care about wearing [personal protective equipment],” he said. “PPE is thrown on the ground after being used. People are afraid to go to the bathroom. People are afraid to eat.”
Naro, who has opted not to return because her 6-year-old son was hospitalized with a respiratory illness this year, said that with distancing requirements only loosely followed, it is unthinkable for her to work in the resulting conditions: hours-long shifts with shared machinery, in close quarters with others. She said she took Musk at his word in early May but thinks her job was threatened because she did so and then spoke out.
“I actually spoke with a [supervisor] … and he said, ‘Do you have any idea when you’re gonna be returning back?’ and I said, ‘When covid-19 is over.’ ”
washingtonpost.com © 1996-2020 The Washington Post
Spain: over 1 million fines handed out for breaking Coronavirus lockdown, with some of the most absurd pretexts for issuing them
“Nathalie Rose Kern, 37 from London, was fined €1000 for “walking too slowly” …”This is NOT how you walk to the bank. You are showing no urgency…” etc.etc.
Some pertinent links:
Below is a description and a link to a short article regarding the uselessness of the lockdowns (the description is from the shady but sometimes useful Swiss Policy Research site):
“In his latest contribution, the Swiss chief physician of infectiology, Pietro Vernazza, uses the results of the German Robert Koch Institute and ETH Zurich to show that the Covid19 epidemic was already under control before the “lockdown” was even introduced:
“These results are explosive: Both studies show that simple measures such as the renunciation of major events and the introduction of hygiene measures are highly effective. The population is able to implement these recommendations well and the measures can almost bring the epidemic to a halt. In any case, the measures are sufficient to protect our health system in such a way that the hospitals are not overburdened”.
A detailed article about the situation in Syria (academic/research-type):
“Testing for COVID-19
The regime is not just hoarding supplies or limiting access to northeast Syria; it is also hampering what capacities are in place and spreading false information. The WHO provided the Syrian Ministry of Health with five PCR machines, and Damascus decided not to send even a single one to the northeast. Accordingly, doctors there were compelled to use one of two routes to send samples to Damascus for testing. The first entails calling in a Rapid Response Team (RRT) supported by the WHO. Alex describes the difficulties encountered so far: “If a health facility calls the RRT for highly suspect cases, they say they can’t get through the checkpoints, they arrive late, or they simply say ‘we’re not coming.’ If they do arrive, they often say ‘these people don’t meet the case definition’ and refuse to swab them, even when they clearly display the symptoms.” According to Dr. Ciwan Mistefa, the co-chair of the Autonomous Administration’s Health Directorate and a human rights researcher working on Syria, the regime’s Health Directorate in Hassakeh ordered the RRT not to collect samples from hospitals that cooperate with NGOs that were not registered and approved by Damascus, such as MSF and the KRC. As a result, in some cases, patients were forced to be transferred to regime-run hospitals for the RRT to be willing to collect samples from them, endangering the health of both the patient and ambulance crews. This conduct is consistent with the WHO’s general refusal to provide assistance and coordinate with NGOs not registered in Damascus, which are responsible for meeting much of the area’s medical needs, said Dilgesh Issa of the KRC.
An alternative route involves shipping the samples to Damascus through the Qamishli airport, which has been used for sending samples for polio and influenza diagnostic tests in the past. “The RRT refused to come to the quarantine hospital in Hassakeh, saying there are too many checkpoints and not enough staff. After the failure to get them to come, we sent the two samples to Damascus on March 31 through the regular route recommended by the WHO, but Damascus says they did not get to them,” said Dr. Kevok. Similarly, samples collected by the RRT in northeast Syria, which the WHO claims tested negative, were apparently never tested, according to a well-placed health sector source who requested anonymity. This means that the Syrian Ministry of Health lab, supported by the WHO, is potentially misreporting cases as negative, when those individuals in fact are infected with COVID-19 and pose a danger to the community around them.
As a result of the apparent policy of deprioritizing testing in northeast Syria, only 19 samples from the region were sent for testing in Damascus. “There are several samples for which no result was provided. We don’t know if they turned out negative, positive, or even if they were tested,” said Dr. Mistefa of the Autonomous Administration. He added, “There are dozens of suspected cases in northeast Syria. 19 tests for the entire region is a low number, indicating the limited cooperation by the WHO and limited support” provided to the northeast.
The failure of the COVID-19 testing system in northeast Syria, overseen by a hostile regime and an obedient WHO, became glaringly apparent on April 18, when the Autonomous Administration announced that the WHO had just notified them that a patient whose sample was collected on March 29 and died on April 2 had tested positive for the virus. The WHO informed the Syrian Ministry of Health about the test results on April 2, but the regime refuses to coordinate with the Autonomous Administration and did not pass on this vital information. A spokesperson for the WHO claimed that contract-tracing was carried out after the test came back positive, but humanitarian workers in the region doubt this claim given the RRT’s hands-off approach and limited testing in the area. This conduct is reminiscent of the regime’s decision to ban the WHO from providing polio vaccinations in rebel-held Deir Ez Zor in the early years of the war and subsequent efforts by the WHO to cover up the inevitable outbreak of polio there in 2013.
On April 11, long after other areas in Syria, the Autonomous Administration was finally able to obtain two PCR machines from the KRI. Three more machines have arrived since and two are en route, according to Dr. Kevok, all of them transiting through the KRI. On April 20, after undergoing training, local technicians began to carry out COVID-19 tests in Qamishli. The WHO did not deliver any COVID-19 test kits to the region, leaving northeast Syria dependent on continued access to the KRI to acquire the needed supplies.”
Israel: “I am a Corona prisoner” – patients in hotels describe a rigid attitude, sudden orders from above and growing distress
Moving us, transferring us, tossing us around without logic and without explanation. “
“I asked to move to Nahariya [a coastal city in the north of Israel, about 11 km from the Lebanease border – T], this is the hotel closest to our home in Haifa,” says N. “The proximity to home is important because my children do not eat the food we receive and it is forbidden to order food from outside. We rely on hot dishes and snacks that family members deliver.
“But we were still surrounded by fences and armed security guards in every direction. I’m trying to figure out why, what is the logic. That behavior brings me back to my military days.”
Spain: new so-called deconfinement rules very clearly attack the “elderly” and create social apartheid between the old and the rest
“The government order underscores that …residents of senior residences are not allowed out on public streets and spaces…People who need to go out with a caregiver and seniors over 70 years of age have their own time slots of 10am to 12pm and 7pm to 8pm.”
“A local officer told the Euro Weekly News “Everyone is getting clear notice of the time this morning so there are no excuses after 10am and we will start rounding up anyone who’s out after the designated time.””
This is a state that left people to die alone and unknown in care homes but spends endless amounts of money to send helicopters to arrest a lone person strolling along the beach! Remember – this government is a coalition of the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party (PSOE) and Podemos. The most totalitarian Coronavirus regime in Europe (and the competition is hot): up until recently kids weren’t even allowed to go out, and officially you weren’t even allowed to go out into your garden (though this was never enforced).
Should pay for the cops’ bonuses plus drones, machine guns, helicopters, etc. – all the essentials for health – the health, of course, of the state. The article says “From March 15 when Spain’s state of alarm kicked, until May 3, a total of 7,189 people were arrested, while 806,595 were fined.” With 600 euro minimum fines (1500 minimum in Madrid), that makes an absolute minimum of over half a billion euros , a minimum based on the unlikely idea that no-one was fined in Madrid, and that it also excludes multiple “offenders” whose fines can reach up to 600,000 euros! The media outside Spain is so far presenting it all as some nice staggered “deconfinement” but these filth are as fascist as Franco, though very differently and in very different historical circumstances. They even seem to be looking to define certain kinds of criticism of the goverment as a “hate crime”.
“A 1.2-mile stretch of beach in the village of Zahara de los Atunes was sprayed with the disinfectant using tractors in an attempt to kill off coronavirus…Zahara de los Atunes official Agustin Conejo said the bleaching had been carried out in anticipation of children who would visit the beach after six weeks of quarantine, but admitted it was a “wrong move”. He told broadcaster Canal Sur: “I recognise it was an error. But it was done with the best of intentions.”
Israel: an aesthetic anaesthetic – or “…as long as this world is fundamentally ugly and work-oriented, aesthetics as a specialised activity will try to make it look nice and playful…”
It’s all bright for some
From Our Diplomatic Correspondant on Radio Tel Aviv (87.9 Medium Wave – but to you 86.5)
Coronavirus Chic: Young Israeli Designers Face a Brighter Future Thanks to These Cool Masks (Haaretz article, in fact)
With their core activities curtailed by the pandemic, four quick-thinking Israeli designers saw no option but to handle the crisis in style. They’ve become unexpectedly must-have accessories whether we like it or not: Face masks are now mandatory in Israel, punishable with a 200 shekel ($55) fine if they aren’t worn in public during the coronavirus pandemic. The country’s offices, stores and streets have suddenly begun to resemble hospital operating rooms, with most people wearing standard surgical masks, interspersed with the occasional homemade cloth mask, mass-produced Lycra mask or improvised bandana. Among the fashion conscious, though, demand for more stylish and cheerful forms of face protection has exploded – and several quick-thinking Israeli designers have filled that niche, offering masks that, on average, sell for between 69 to 199 shekels. In her Jaffa studio, Swedish-born designer Kiki Almqvist has been busy producing her one-of-a-kind creations. …. For her, the paper masks she bought at the pharmacy at the outset of the outbreak immediately rubbed her the wrong way. “It gave me an allergic rash,” she relays. “A lot of people with sensitive skin aren’t able to wear them comfortably.” So Almqvist took some of the elegant material from her designs and made silk-lined masks for herself. Her friends and customers wanted them as soon as they saw them. “It’s so much nicer to have a piece of good fabric on your face than paper,” she explains. Initially, she says, she was inspired to create masks that match her best-selling item at the moment – silk kimonos, which she calls “the ultimate clothing for the coronavirus: They are comfortable to wear around the house, but you can throw on heels and go outside and still look elegant.” The silky and sequined masks “are an extension of my collection,” she says. “Masks are going to be with us for a long time, and I think it will be great to have an elegant-looking mask to wear to an important meeting or a special event that feels ‘dressed up.'”…Wedding gown designer Yarden Oz characterizes her new mask-making venture, Happy People, as a way of “making lemonade out of some very bitter lemons.” She and her husband Shachaf work in some of the hardest-hit professions: He owns and operates a venue that specializes in bar- and bat-mitzvah parties – the Coliseum, in the Tel Aviv suburb of Rishon Letzion, where the couple lives. The special events industry was one of the first to fall victim to the coronavirus, with large gatherings banned; it is also expected to be one of the last to return to full operation. “I love my work because I get to dress women on the happiest day of their lives,” says Oz, 28, explaining the name of her new venture. But when the coronavirus struck, nothing seemed happy anymore. “Suddenly, my days were all about cancellations, fears and pain,” she recounts. “Some of my brides postponed their events, others downsized to small ceremonies and I had to replace their dress with something more modest that suited the occasion better.” Oz made her first mask for her husband, after he was ordered into quarantine for two weeks. With no weddings to make dresses for, she invested the time to make a “stylish and fun” mask for him – because “let’s face it, hospital masks have a depressing connotation.”While she was at it, she decided to make a matching mask for herself, and the couple posted photos on social media of themselves wearing the masks. Soon, people were contacting her, asking for masks as well – and the new venture was born.She has transformed the empty Coliseum into an impromptu mask factory, and demand is such that she is working with 10 seamstresses outside the facility. Her most in-demand masks? Animal prints – leopard and zebra – and sequins. Now, she says, “some of my brides and grooms are sending out announcements of their rescheduled weddings – ‘update the date’ notices – with a photo of them wearing my masks.” Another newly branded mask vendor is Stav Ofman, a 2018 graduate of Shenkar College (one of Israel’s most prestigious design schools). … “I created some crazy ones, which were one of a kind because I was using the scraps of leftover fabric. It started spreading by word of mouth among my friends here that I was making them – and I began getting requests.”The website for Ofman’s Savvy Masks – which come in three sizes, is slick and high concept. Each mask model has a name – “The Elle,” “The Cheetah Girl,” “The Black Panther” – with some featuring camouflage, stars and high-end embroidered designs. Now she is considering working on outfits to match the masks, or perhaps bathing suits. “A lot will depend on what the restrictions will be this summer,” she explains. “Where are people going to be allowed to go, and where will they be required to wear the masks?” Like Oz and Almqvist, Ofman is selling her masks in central Israel or letting her customers pick them up from her. However, she soon hopes to be able to begin selling more widely – in London and other locations. Almqvist, who has established clientele in Sweden and the United States – she has been doing sales events via Zoom – has already sold masks overseas. Another designer, Rachel Aharami, has created a niche within a niche: specialty cloth masks for children. … “I love working with kids,” she says. “I like to see their smiles, and they really appreciate things that are special – it’s really rewarding. … I’m making between 60 and 90 each week, and I expect to make more.” Aharami’s masks feature angels, rainbows, unicorns and hearts – and a line of bolder masks with comic prints…”Now I have teachers getting ready to go back and they are coming to me for adult-sized masks in kid-friendly material that are pretty and fun, so the kids won’t feel scared or sad,” Aharami reports. “If you’re going to have to wear a mask – it might as well be cheerful.”
Dr. Mengele is alive and well and living in the UK:
“…the British Medical Association (BMA) …suggests that in cases where ventilators are scarce, those facing poor prognosis could have the life-saving equipment taken away from them – even if their condition is improving – with younger and healthier patients given priority instead. We are already seeing this play out. Last week, one man tweeted that his brother, who lives in a care home with limited mobility and a cognitive disability, went to hospital with a chest infection but didn’t make “the pandemic-led prioritisation cut”. He died a week later.”
“Epilepsy Scotland has become aware of reports stating people in England and Wales with learning disability and autism had been “blanket” contacted by their GPs about filling out a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) form. At time of writing, Epilepsy Scotland has not been made aware of such cases in Scotland. However, it is important to stress this is a line that should not be crossed”
“A GP surgery which said autistic adults should have plans to prevent them being resuscitated if they become critically ill has been criticised. Voyage Care, which cares for the group, was sent the letter by a surgery in Somerset amid the coronavirus crisis…The paperwork is known as a “do not resuscitate” (DNR) order or an advanced care plan.”
India: new tongs for harassing individuals, that repulsive creeps find sexually attractive, whilst maintaining social distancing (doubtless “grab ’em by the pussy” Trump has already ordered one of these)
“Saxony wants to block quarantine refusers in psychiatric hospitals
Anyone who has to be in quarantine in Saxony and does not abide by it must now face severe penalties. The federal state has cleared almost two dozen rooms in psychiatric clinics, where the unteachable should be guarded by the police.
Anyone who refuses to order home quarantine in Saxony can be arrested in a psychiatric clinic on Thursday. The MDR reported, referring to a request to the country’s Ministry of Social Affairs.
The state government has cleared a total of 22 rooms in the psychiatric clinics in Altscherbitz, Arnsdorf, Großschweidnitz and Rodewisch, in which any refusers should be fixed. The police should guard them.
“It is important for all of our health and life that people adhere to the quarantine orders of the health authorities,” the broadcaster quotes the country’s minister for social affairs, Petra Köpping (SPD).
“If it should happen in individual cases that people oppose the orders, it is necessary to enforce the measures ordered by the health authorities. It is also possible to place these people in a closed part of a hospital with a judicial decision. ”
This initiative is covered by Section 30 of the Federal Infection Protection Act. It states that whoever does not comply with the relevant orders or who, based on previous behavior, assumes that he will not comply with them, must “be separated out by being placed in a closed hospital or in a closed part of a hospital”.
“Only the absolute Ultima Ratio”
The Leipzig Green Party politician and lawyer Jürgen Kasek also speaks to the MDR in favor of this measure, but with reservations: “And very important, that must be proportionate.”
The compulsory stipulation is a “very strong fundamental rights measure”: “Therefore, it can only be the absolute ultima ratio if all other possibilities have been exhausted.”
According to the station, several thousand people have been sent to domestic quarantine in Saxony, including 3300 in Dresden and 2100 in Leipzig.”
As the USA and China clash using the pretext of the virus, a former US marine colonel suggests the part-privatisation of warfare against the Chinese navy, including its merchant navy
“Privateering constitutes a once universally accepted but now thoroughly unconventional way of harnessing the private sector in war…The rise of the Chinese military has been well documented, but a few points highlight why privateering would be a useful element of U.S. naval strategy…China has aggressively expanded its global economic and diplomatic influence through its Belt and Road Initiative, but this expansion creates a vulnerability, as these investments must be protected….The Chinese Communist Party has told the people they will not have democratic institutions, but they will receive economic prosperity. China’s merchant fleet is large, because the cost to China of building and operating merchant ships is low, and its export-driven economy creates a huge demand. In 2018, China had 2,112 ships in its global merchant fleet and Hong Kong had another 2,185. In addition, China has a massive long-distance fishing fleet, estimated at 2,500 vessels…. Privateers do not need to be heavily armed, because they would be taking on lightly (or un-) armed merchant vessels, choosing vulnerable targets, or acting cooperatively with other privateers. Since the goal is to capture the hulls and cargo, privateers do not want to sink the vessel, just convince the crew to surrender. How many merchant crews would be inclined to fight rather than surrender and spend the war in comfortable [sic] internment?”
A Bloomberg article showing some of the rulers’ fears, but it’s more useful for them than for us
Technologists developing a virus “immunity passport” …follow up to “Gates suggests people be made to have a digital ID showing their vaccination status, and that people without this “digital immunity proof” would not be allowed to travel“
T says of the above: “Misleading and sensationalist report. What I saw (I watched the video of the event) is that the police were called to intervene in an apartment where two professors held a livestream lesson (apparently the neighbors complained of noise or something). What you see in the video is that one of the professors is arguing with the police, saying “welcome to fascist Belgium”, etc. (the livestream is still going, so all of the students can see what’s happening) and refusing to give his ID card. At some point the cops also accuse the professor of violating the social-distancing measures, and later when the professor says “Sieg Heil” – obviously as a cynical response to the police methods – one cop tells him that it’s an incitement to racism…”
It’s his own fault – he should have said “Sieg Democracy!”
Just translated article on the Modena prison uprising in March and the mass murder by the state that followed
2 articles on Taiwan: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2020/04/05/2003734015 and https://chinadigitaltimes.net/2020/04/taiwans-covid-19-success-highlights-global-risks-of-diplomatic-isolation/
“Some of the most potent emergency powers at his disposal are likely ones we can’t know about, because they are not contained in any publicly available laws. Instead, they are set forth in classified documents known as “presidential emergency action documents.” These documents consist of draft proclamations, executive orders and proposals for legislation that can be quickly deployed to assert broad presidential authority in a range of worst-case scenarios. They are one of the government’s best-kept secrets. No presidential emergency action document has ever been released or even leaked. And it appears that none has ever been invoked….government documents have revealed some of the actions that older presidential emergency action documents — those issued up through the 1970s — purported to authorize. These include suspension of habeas corpus by the president (not by Congress, as assigned in the Constitution), detention of United States citizens who are suspected of being “subversives,” warrantless searches and seizures and the imposition of martial law….The most notable aspect of presidential emergency action documents might be their extreme secrecy. It’s not uncommon for the government to classify its plans or activities in the area of national security. However, even the most sensitive military operations or intelligence activities must be reported to at least some members of Congress. By contrast, we know of no evidence that the executive branch has ever consulted with Congress — or even informed any of its members — regarding the contents of presidential emergency action documents.”
“A coronavirus lockdown in Liberia’s capital Monrovia got off to a chaotic start on Saturday, as some police officers used truncheons against residents who had ventured out into the streets to buy food and withdraw money. Confusion reigned across much of Monrovia, a city of more than 1 million people, with many having heard, erroneously, via social media that the government had ordered a 3 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew rather than a full lockdown. Many residents voiced anger at President George Weah’s order, which they said would do more harm than good in a country where more than half the population lives in poverty. “Corona is not going to kill many people. It is hunger that will kill many Liberians,” said Jettroy Kolleh, a student, as he stood outside a bank in Monrovia where dozens of people had queued in close proximity to withdraw money…Liberia has so far confirmed at least 48 cases of the coronavirus, including five deaths.”
US: Strange tale of navy secretary forcing captain of ship to resign after he demanded help for virus-infected ship, and then the navy secretary himself had to resign
“Crozier was relieved of his command last week after sending a compelling letter on March 30 to Navy brass pleading for help dealing with an outbreak of the coronavirus on his ship at sea. The message, sent via a nonsecure, unclassified email leaked to the media. More than 100 of some 4,000 sailors on the ship had already tested positive for COVID-19 when Cozier sent the plea. Then-acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly quickly relieved Crozier of his command for exercising what he considered poor judgment. Modly then took a $243,000 flight to Guam Monday to tell Crozier’s crew that their captain had been “too naive or stupid” to lead the ship. One sailor can be heard shouting “what the fuck” at Modly at that point in a recording of the speech that was leaked to the press. Modly apologized for the speech later that day — then resigned on Tuesday.”
Gates suggests people be made to have a digital ID showing their vaccination status, and that people without this “digital immunity proof” would not be allowed to travel
Amongst the half-truths and one-and-a-half truths there are some interesting genuine truths in this mix of conspiracy-theory-inspired political manipulation and partial medical sense and nonsense.
UK: Minister of Health, having had the virus, comes out after 6 days of confinement to cough and sneeze close up to people whilst opening a hospital
To be continued…(not yet transferred from original comments boxes)
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Original article put up on January 28th 2020
Note added 25/3/20:
Please also note that some things here I’d modify given the almost 2 months since I started this. In the confusion of this unprecedented situation, you discover a great deal more tentatively playing around with ideas than playing the perfectionist with some blanket dogma that ignores all the nuances.
“As of today, the state has essentially quarantined an area estimated to encompass 35 million people—a population greater than the 10 largest U.S. cities combined. The unprecedented intervention paints an apocalyptic scene. Around the world, stock markets fell. …Based on what’s known so far, the virus is dangerous—but not unprecedentedly so. It has been confirmed to spread among people who are in close contact—family and health-care workers—but it does not clearly show sustained transmission among people, like other coronaviruses that can manifest as the common cold. The virus seems to have an especially high mortality rate, though of the 26 people reported dead so far, most have been of advanced age or chronically ill—a similar demographic to the hundreds of thousands of people killed every year by the influenza virus….so far, the most deadly coronaviruses—SARS and MERS—each killed fewer than a thousand. Both were tragic, but could have been exponentially worse. Part of the fear and panic in the current case seems less due to the virus than to the response. The moderately virulent nature of the pathogen seems at odds with the fact that the largest quarantine in human history is now taking place in an authoritarian state. People inside and outside of China have limited trust in the information they receive, given the country’s long history of propaganda and censorship. Without knowing everything that the state does, international officials have been hesitant to criticize its response. But there is good reason to believe that the quarantine itself will have significant consequences. Quarantines were common during Europe’s plague-addled Middle Ages, and continued to be the primary means of controlling outbreaks until 1900. Especially after the advent of antibiotics and diagnostic testing, the relative harms began to outweigh the benefits. International agreements were put in place to limit the practice as a matter of justice, because of the burden it placed on people and economies, in addition to basic questions of effectiveness. Quarantines may be used in isolated cases, especially before an outbreak is widespread. But in China, given the advanced spread of the outbreak—the new virus was first reported to the World Health Organization just three weeks ago and has since been found in Japan, South Korea, the United States, Thailand, Singapore, and Vietnam—some experts believe any window for effective containment has passed…Shortly after the quarantine was announced, The Washington Post reported increases in the cost of food in Wuhan. Some citizens have reported empty grocery shelves…. Social-media posts describe people being unable to get access to medical facilities for viral testing. Other posts on social media about the scope of the outbreak have inexplicably disappeared, prompting accusations of censorship and further uncertainty.”
In 2005 in France the avian flu “pandemic” was the first item of the evening news for about 6 weeks. Small farms were visited daily by gendarmes until they were forced to close down. Nobody in France died, and globally there were less than 1000 deaths of human beings, vastly smaller than deaths from ordinary flu annually. But it served the purpose of destroying small farmers/peasants and greatly boosting agribusiness.
“Until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated the annual mortality burden of influenza to be 250 000 to 500 000 all-cause deaths globally; however, a 2017 study indicated a substantially higher mortality burden, at 290 000-650 000 influenza-associated deaths from respiratory causes alone, and a 2019 study estimated 99 000-200 000 deaths from lower respiratory tract infections directly caused by influenza. ” – here. This is not to deny the fact that this new virus is killing people in greater proportion to those who have it than the proportion of those who die from ordinary flu as compared to those who get it, but it gives some notion of the disproportionate level of alarm. Meanwhile deaths from malaria are also quite high – 405,000, 67% of whom were children, in 2018.
In France in 2009 swine flu became the pretext for an exercise in social control – with doctors forced by the state to vaccinate everybody who came to their clinics fearing the disease. Despite massive and continual state and media propaganda, less than 30% of the population took up this manipulated ‘need’ for a vaccine. The Minister of Health at the time, Rosalyne Bachelot, whose personal interests in the pharmaceutical industry were well-known, ordered billions of euros worth of vaccines that were never used, but which the state paid to her financial connections.
Undoubtedly illness and disease are constantly used for ulterior motives which will invariably be dismissed as ‘conspiracy theory’ by interested parties. Often the state allows genuine problems (and certainly not only health-related ones) to develop to use a crisis so as to consequently crack down on potential revolt. This is not to ignore the obviously ridiculous conspiracy theories around the Coronavirus, whose effect is ultimately to make many of those who recognise the absurdity of many of these claims accept everything official ideology proclaims about it, since anything critical can be dismissed as some stupid conspiracy “theory”.
Which is why we should not forget that Wuhan – the centre of the Coronavirus – had a significant social movement in July 2019 which tentatively began to connect to the movement in Hong Kong ( see this, this, this, this, this, this, and this), which may be a factor in this exercise in authoritarian repression. And Hong Kong too is experiencing some minor elements of control as a result of this virus. In the face of the very tenuous beginnings of significant social contestation in countries throughout the world, fear of touching or proximity to others is another convenient factor in the intensification of social separation. Given the ‘spontaneous’ racism of many people, it doesn’t need to be deliberate policy for it to be exploited in such a way as to exacerbate already existing separations – such as racism towards anyone who looks Chinese (see, for instance, this).
Moreover, given the fact that the doctor who originally discovered this virus was arrested and accused of “rumour-mongering”, it’s hard not to speculate if the Chinese bureaucracy intentionally wanted this virus to spread. And perhaps conveniently blame the local bureaucracy in Wuhan of gross incompetence so as to get rid of rivals in the CCP’s internal battles. Sure, this is pure conjecture, and it implies that the State is omnipotent and invariably in control of forces that are often beyond its control. It would suggest that the CCP was capable of undermining its own global bid for world market supremacy (the effect of the virus has been to weaken Chinese capital) because of a greater threat of internal subversion perhaps triggered by the limited revolts in Hong Kong, and Wuhan itself. In other words, figuring out that reducing its capacity for capital accumulation in the immediate term was worth it in order to suppress the possibility of revolt. Possibly too many incalculable risks for the State to have proceeded in such a Machiavellian manner, though it’s still a possibility. However, it’s not really worthwhile going down this road of hypothesis-fantasy. After all, it’s how the state actually uses this “crisis” that’s important not tracking down the manipulations and manoeuvres that seem to be behind it.
Conspiracy “theory” is often just a way of constantly researching – and often inventing – “proofs” with the sole aim of proving something that’s largely impossible to prove without having direct access to the hidden secrets at the centre of Power. And almost invariably involves ignoring any evidence that may conflict with the conspiracy ideology: having decided dogmatically on the fact that a situation is a conspiracy, it would be inconvenient to look at anything that might run counter to such a possibility. In an age of confusion and uncertainty, conspiracy “theory” functions like other forms of dogma – as a way of affirming a fixed idea that seems to rise above the turmoil. In a world that’s utterly insecure, those on the absolute margin of existence seek out fixed certainties that substitute for confronting this increasingly chaotic world, that substitute for a more open ‘nuanced’ attitude towards people and ideas.
Conspiracy “theory” is usually an obsession which aims to sell the “theorist” as a particularly lucid opponent of political intrigue. Whereas in fact, it’s just a grandiose internet-fueled political version of what used to be seen as petty gossip. Substitute “Jerry’s sleeping with his ex-wife’s girlfriend” with “Xi Jinping hates Zhou Xianwang because…”. Just as in the past the largest section of society objectively reduced to being spectators of history – women – resorted to gossip as a form of manipulation substituting for direct ability to influence events, so nowadays there are many who essentially remain spectators who feel that they overcome their separation from history by spreading conspiracy “theories”.
“Conspiracy ideology becomes a strategy which mediates all of reality. For the believer, the clouds rain conspiracy, the sunshine nourishes it. Its favorite climate is fog, the element of confusion, where secrets are wrapped in a nebulous environment that animates mundanity. Facts are relevant only as details in the landscape which jive or don’t jive with what the believer wants to see. …Conspiracy ideology does not set out to demonstrate the real motive forces behind human practice (including the actual role, if any, of conspiracies within the development of events), but rather takes the conspiracy as beginning and end. The notion itself of conspiracy constitutes the totality of its substance. Conspiracy ideology is a quintessential reflection in ideas of commodity production: each new detail at once creates the need for more details and confirms the value of all previous investigation (consumption). Each detail is a commodity in and of itself. The goal – discovery – is always a letdown, a pageant of bureaucratic tedium. The process is everything. Conspiracy ideology is modernist to the extent that it makes interpretation participatory. The specialist is not the person best able to interpret the evidence, but the person who uncovers it. The interpretation is left to mutilated subjectivity….” – here (written in 1979!)
“Protesters threw petrol bombs on Sunday night at an empty public housing complex in Hong Kong that had been earmarked to become a temporary quarantine zone as the city battles an outbreak of the SARS-like Novel Coronavirus as the city battles an outbreak of the SARS-like Novel Coronavirus…Dozens of local residents and protesters opposed to the idea held rallies outside the complex on Sunday, with some setting up road blocks…The city’s ability to combat the crisis was hampered by moves in mainland China to cover up and play down the outbreak, leaving a lasting legacy of distrust among many Hong Kongers.”
“A man stands next to a cart in a snow-covered field in Inner Mongolia, trying to carve a path. A drone hovers in the distance and a voice calls out: “Uncle, why are you still going out without a face mask? Don’t laugh. Hurry up and get in your car and go home.” As the man drives away, glancing back, the drone follows him and the voice warns: “Don’t come outside if you don’t have to. Rest at home … What are you looking at? Go!”…More than 50 million people have been placed under a lockdown and myriad directives have been issued, from enforcing temperature checks and “strengthening monitoring” of citizens’ health to persuading people not to hold weddings or other large gatherings….”
Updated on 4th February with statistics about ordinary flu, and the two links immediately above about China’s use of the epidemic to reinforce already existing tendencies to totalitarian surveillance and the uselesssness of facemasks.
Updated further on 8th February with an elaboration on the contradictions of conspiracy “theories”.
PS This – Will the coronavirus outbreak derail the global economy? could well become the official reason for an economic recession-cum-depression which was already predictable way before the Coronavirus “crisis”, the justification for further attacks on the working class.
Links to various pieces of relevant information and texts (other than examples of practical contestation ) starting with the most recent.
The following were additional links, mainly by myself, put in the original comments boxes: